Amba Of De Kleur Van Rood
Amba Of De Kleur Van Rood is the Dutch version of Laksmi’s debut novel Amba/The Question of Red, translated by Jan Pieter van der Steere and Reintje Groos.
It tells the story of two lovers, Amba and Bhisma, who were driven apart by one of the bloodiest communist purges in the 20th century—the massacre of up to one million accused Communists in Indonesia between 1965 and 1968. The novel was published in Indonesian in October 2012 under the title Ambaand is a national bestseller. In the novel, the lives of the central characters reinterpret the Mahabharata—that timeless allegory of war within a family—and move from rural Java to Europe and to the prison camps of Buru Island, where approximately 12,000 alleged communists were incarcerated without trial during the Suharto administration.
Amba Of De Kleur Van Rood
“In The Question of Red, Laksmi Pamuntjak takes on one of the bloodiest and most violent political massacres the world has ever seen, an event that - curiously - remains unknown in many parts of the world and barely spoken about in contemporary South East Asia: Indonesia's coup d'état of 1965, which cost a million lives and set the tone for fifty years of instability in the most populous Muslim country in the world. It is a love story, but also a bold confrontation of a country's past - its shame and its glorious potential. A huge bestseller on its publication in Indonesia, The Question of Red signalled Laksmi Pamuntjak's bravery and scope as a writer, and may yet prove to be a landmark work of South East Asian writing. - Tash Aw, author of Harmony Silk Factory, Map of the Invisible World & Five Star Billionaire
“With this novel Laksmi Pamuntjak firmly establishes herself as one of the most eloquent writers of Indonesian history, intertwining scenes of great tension and reckless passion with sections of great historical interest…it needs a skillful pen to take on the Mahabharata and to rewrite Indonesia’s recent history.” – Saskia Wieringa, author of Lubang Buaya, writing for The Jakarta Globe
"The way Laksmi Pamuntjak approached the traumatic events of the 1965 coup, the massacres and persecutions in Amba/The Question of Red shows her mastery as an author. By interweaving story lines and changing environments the writer engages her readers on various levels. For an Indonesian public that has been immersed in a one-sided state-organized presentation Amba offers a new perspective involving real humans while through The Question of Red an international public is offered an insight in the effects that the events of 1965 had on lives through a novel that is literary in its construction and language but very down to earth in its protagonists." - Wim Manuhutu, historian and review editor of Moesson magazine in the Netherlands
“A compelling love story, elegantly and passionately told by one of the sharpest minds of her generation, set in a history held as most taboo in [Indonesia]," Ariel Heryanto, Associate Professor of Indonesian Studies and Head of Southeast Asia Centre, Australian National University
“... carefully crafted and meticulously researched, this is compelling reading and an important contribution to literary imaginings of 1965.” Pamela Allen, Associate Dean, Faculty of Arts, University of Hobart, Tasmania
“What makes Amba not merely a historical epic or a common love story is the stylishness of its prose, the psychological depth of its characters, its reflexivity and erudition, and the meticulous research that lies at its heart, which breathes life to the setting and all the life situations and existential dilemmas it encompasses... What stands out first and foremost is the skill with which (its author) mines the potential of the Indonesian language. On the whole, the poetry of its prose… is one that succeeds in articulating the unutterable (in life’s conundrums), depicting scenes that are hard to render, and in so doing pulling every scene closer towards ever deeper dimensions of meaning. There is an immense skill at play in exploring diction and playing around with its semantic possibilities…” - Kompas, October 2012
“This novel will join the pantheon of the all-time greats in Indonesian literature.” - Goenawan Mohamad, essayist, poet, founding editor of Tempo magazine
“Amba is the best (Indonesian) novel since the Earth of Mankind tetralogy.” - J.B. Kristanto, journalist, literary critic
“This novel… comes to us indirectly ‘at the point of forgetting’. A disappeared person; to stress his absence, the novel presents only the few letters unearthed from beneath the tree in a corner of Buru Island. We get the voice of a person, Bhisma, who ‘twinkles and fades.’ Amba is one of a few novels that stresses the sense of anxiety plaguing us in Indonesia these days: the anxiety that the terrifying ‘events of 1965’ will be lost, stripped from collective memory. We do not want to return to brutality.” Tempo, 14 October 2012
“Laksmi’s combination of poetry and prose achieves its strongest harmony in the letters…they exceed their function as the bearer of news; instead, they reinforce the subject in his absence. They arise like an echo.” – Tempo, 4 November 2012